(b. 1484/85, Schwäbisch-Gmünd, d. 1545, Strasbourg)

Witches Sabbath

Woodcut with tone block, 379 x 260 mm
Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg

Hans Baldung Grien explored the darker sides of human nature in this woodcut, with its terrifying vision of the diabolic power of six witches. Their sabbath occurs at night amid a desolate forest. The dead, moss-covered tree-trunk on the right is emblematic of their destructive perversity. Interestingly, witches were only rarely depicted in art before the end of the fifteenth century. The pictures of witches concocted by Baldung and his German peers fixed the public's conception for the next several hundred years.